How best to connect headphones to a hifi setup?
Dec 1, 2008 at 8:52 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6

lydgate

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Hi everyone,

So I'm a hifi newbie and just got a pair of Sennheiser HD 555s on the cheap so as not to bother my flatmates with music late at night. I'm trying to work out the best way to listen to my hifi, which has to do with the fact that I use a number of sources.

Note that I'm more interested in what's the best way with what I've got rather than buying new stuff to get a better sound.

The simplest case is listening to vinyl. My choices are:
1. Turntable -> phono stage of Audiolab 8000A amp -> headphone out on Audiolab -> HD 555.
2. Turntable -> phono stage -> pre-amp out on Audiolab -> RCA to 3.5mm converter -> HeadRoom BitHead -> HD 555.

I know this will depend on the quality of the Audiolab's headphone stage, it seems very powerful but at normal volumes with no input there is some hiss -- with the BitHead there isn't. But is it stupid to put it through two amps? I think the pre-amp means that the audiolab isn't amping it though, right?

Slightly more complicated is CD:
1. Technics CD SL-PS7 -> headphone out -> HD 555.
2. Technics CD SL-PS7 -> Audiolab 8000A -> headphone out -> HD 555.
3. Technics CD SL-PS7 -> Audiolab 8000A -> BitHead -> HD 555.

It seems to me that #1 is the best since I don't have a DAC -- so the DAC within the CD player is being used no matter what, may as well just output it straight from there. It does sound good. Or is the headphone amp in a CD player likely to be crap?

Also complicated is soundcard:
1. Audiophile 2496 -> RCA -> Audiolab 8000A -> HD 555
2. Audiophile 2496 -> RCA -> Audiolab -> BitHead -> HD 555
3. Audiophile 2496 -> USB input on Bithead -> HD 555

Certainly the Audiophile is a better soundcard than whatever is built into the bithead, but if the headphone stage is bad enough on the Audiolab, it seems like it would be the wrong output.

I suppose the ideal output would be:
Audiophile 2496 -> SPDIF -> External Dac -> Bithead (or better amp) -> HD 555

Is that right?

Have I just confused myself?

I know I should look for what sounds best, but I'd like some advice to know if what I'm doing with the signal is sensible...

Any help is much appreciated!
 
Dec 1, 2008 at 10:37 PM Post #3 of 6

scompton

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If you use the pre out of the integrated amp, you are bypassing the amp stage of your integrated amp. You won't be amping twice. Another option is to use a tape out if your amp has one. That's what I do with my integrated amp because the pre out has to be connected to the the amp in to use the amp with speakers. My amp also has a decent headphone out for high impedance headphones.
 
Dec 1, 2008 at 11:23 PM Post #4 of 6

lydgate

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Hi, thanks for the replies. Question about the pre-amp -- if it's not amplifying at all, then why is the volume affected by the amplifier's volume knob?

My amp does indeed have two tape IOs, the outputs also bypass the amplifier? What's the difference? Is it that the pre-amp always on (for outputting to a subwoofer? a separate power amp?) and the tape outs are selectable by the record setting?

Sorry if I'm straying from the original post, just trying to understand.
 
Dec 1, 2008 at 11:41 PM Post #5 of 6

scompton

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The volume knob belongs to the preamp, not the amp. You have an integrated preamp/amp. If you look at separate components, and amp usually has 1 input and speaker outputs. All it does is amplify the signal.

All of the other controls belong to the preamp. The simplest preamp allows you to select between various line in inputs, adjust the volume, and provide a line out to an amp. It can also have a phono stage, tone controls, etc.
 
Dec 1, 2008 at 11:49 PM Post #6 of 6

paaj

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pre-amp out is volumecontrolled to send a signal to a power amp (which has fixed amplification)
tape in/out just reroutes the incoming signal to an external device without modifying it (normally) so this is probably the best way to connect.
often you can also specify which signal is rerouted to the tape output so you can just use your amp as a gateway for different sources.
 

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